Amazon sprouts an online flower shop

September 12, 2013 03:00 PM Inc. has begun selling fresh-cut flowers to customers in the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Called the Amazon Curated Flowers Collection, the new store launched in early August, the retailer confirmed, declining to provide further details. 

Six assortments of 15 to 25 roses or lilies, with or without vases, are available in the collection today. Amazon’s Prime  and Super Saver Shipping programs both apply to the buds, allowing consumers to receive free shipping on their orders. The web site does not specify how fast the flowers are delivered, but says all deliveries are expedited to ensure freshness.

One customer who ordered a dozen roses writes in a review on the Amazon Curated Flowers Collection product page that he ordered the flowers on Wednesday and received them on Friday. He also writes that the flowers arrived in a rectangular box in clear wrapping. The product page does not reveal from where Amazon sources its flowers.

Customers may request a gift message with their flowers. Amazon says it is working on a tool to schedule deliveries for special occasions, according to the FAQs on the product pages; that feature is not yet available.

A dozen red roses in a vase from the Amazon Curated Flowers Collection costs $34.28. The same order with the most basic vase option from competitor Inc. costs $49.99 before shipping; from FTD Group Inc. it costs $30 before shipping. Amazon sellers including Pro Flowers and From You Flowers offer comparable products on the retailer’s e-marketplace for $19.99 and $24.99 before shipping, respectively.

In the last two months Amazon has also begun selling fine art and autographed sports memorabilia in specialty stores on its e-commerce site. Last November, it made another gourmet move by opening a wine store, too.

Amazon is No. 1 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide. 1-800-Flowers is No. 58 and FTD is No. 85.

In 2012, the 12 Top 500 retailers selling specifically in the flowers/gifts category grew their web sales by about 8.3%, to $1.43 billion from $1.32 billion in 2011.




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